The paradox of the Black Republican pt 3: the dishonest campaign
Are you kidding me?
Democrats accuse Steele of 'political identity theft'
By Jennifer Skalka
September 22, 2006
No, Maryland voters, the printer did not make an error. Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's new campaign signs seem to identify him as a Democrat.
A "Steele Democrat," they read.
The bright blue placards and bumper stickers made their debut yesterday in Baltimore during an event announcing a new coalition of Democrats supporting the lieutenant governor's U.S. Senate bid. Steele, of course, is the Republican nominee for Senate and a former chairman of the state Republican Party.
The group and accompanying signs appear to be the latest Steele effort to distance himself from an unpopular White House and a Republican Party struggling to maintain its hold on Congress. The state Democratic Party chairman immediately accused him of "identity theft."
Steele supporters said the term was akin to calling someone a "Reagan Democrat."
No elected Democrats showed up for yesterday's event, and the crowd was composed largely of participants in the I Can't We Can substance-abuse-recovery program in Park Heights.
Among the few recognizable Democrats to appear was William H. Murphy Jr., a Baltimore lawyer who has ties to Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
"I'm sick and tired of being taken for granted by the Democratic Party," Murphy said.
"We don't embrace George Bush, we embrace Michael Steele," he said. "We don't embrace George Bush's vision of America, we embrace Michael Steele's vision of America."
Donald F. Norris, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said that while such cross-party coalitions are a routine campaign gimmick, Steele's new signs are "underhanded" and a "dirty trick."
"Oh ho, we're a blue state, aren't we?" Norris said. "This is an obvious attempt on the part of a candidate who is behind in the polls to confuse the voters about which party he actually represents. To me, it's a form of dirty politics."
To add to the party confusion, a Democrat with the last name Mfume endorsed Steele yesterday.
Michael Mfume - son of former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kweisi Mfume - linked arms with Steele in Baltimore.
"I'm here, and I'm in support of Mr. Steele," said the younger Mfume, whose professional experience as a film and music producer includes directing the horror movie Ax 'Em, according to Internet postings.
How stupid do they think black voters are?
When some store owner in Ohio put up a Blackwell poster in his store, one customer said outright that he'd lost his business. They wouldn't even admit supporting Blackwell to the black reporter who was questioning them, much less use their full names for attribution.
Now, how pathetic is this event, a bunch of crackheads and one of Mfume's eight kids. Not one elected black official. Steele is desperate for Mfume to support him, but I guess Mfume might want another political job one day. Which he won't get if he supports Steele.
When people ask, "Steele only has to get some black votes" or "maybe people will believe that thing about the KKK", I just shake my head. For some reason, blacks have been cast as emotional children when it comes to voting. As if black skin is enough to claim allegiance. That may work for Allen Iverson, but not in politics. The idea that Steele, after his open, flagrant support of hard right Republicans, can now come to blacks for support is insane. They know who he is. And they dislike him.
Black people know their history. They know who is on their side and who isn't. I'll get more into this later, but politics is personal in black America. Which is why politicians tred lightly even around Louis Farrakhan, forget Al Sharpton. You may disagree with them, but disrespect them at your peril.
Let's say I'm at a party. Everyone is talking politics. And I get up and say I support Bush. People will walk away from me, people will shout me down. What was a pleasant evening would get nasty fairly quickly. Someone would invariably ask me if I thought I was white. The ad hominem attack popular in black politics.
One shorthand that black authors and screenwriters use to depict a character who is isolated from their family is to make them an uptight Republican.
Steele isn't playing nice guy and trying to play Democrat because people disagree with his politics. It's because they disagree with being a Republican on a far more fundamental level. I've never used the invective here I've heard casually about most Republicans. The only one who's exempted from that is Colin Powell. And that's because he hasn't been a craven lackey to the right.
But I don't think most people outside the black community understand how reviled the GOP is. It's more than politics, it's personal. Sure, some people want to talk to the GOP, but those efforts always fail. Because the GOP isn't serious.
I mean, black commentators openly debate if Katrina was genocide or not. In that kind of environment, the GOP isn't going to get a hearing.
Look, Al Wynn, who is not a Republican, is ass deep in trouble for his stands on issues. Steele is no Al Wynn. His views are rejected by the black community. Which is why he wants to run an issue free campaign.
And every attempt where he tries to sound not goofy, it makes him look even worse. He talks about how he likes Mike Tyson, who scares the shit out of everybody, or calls Bush his "homeboy". A dignified, educated black man calling anyone a homeboy will work the nerve of most older black people, but Bush, shit, hand out the tap shoes and tux.
What people outside the black community don't get is the utter isolation of black Republicans from the community. There isn't one elected to a higher office than small town mayor. None can run for state office, much less state wide office on their own. Forget Congress.
There was an article from the Washington Post a couple of months ago, about a Dept of Ed official, a rising black Republican "star". The thrust of the article was that he couldn't even talk politics with his grandmother. In most black families, the grandmother is a revered figure, both matriarch and confider. For this man to be that isolated from his grandmother was a sign of his total disconnect from the community. One of his friends, a man who helped raise him, said "you know, I think the white people took him from us". That is a damning phrase.
When black people reject black Republicans, it's a personal rejection as well as a politicial one.
Steele may well get some black votes. But the fact that his audience was a bunch of crackheads today bodes ill for him. He should have had his Democratic, elected supporters with him.
posted by Steve @ 5:19:00 PM